With 2021 coming to a close, we’d like to pull back the curtain a bit and share with you what were the most popular machines and helmets purchased at Welding Supplies from IOC. In the end, you should always choose your equipment by how it will meet your needs, not what everyone else is picking. However, looking at the machines and brands other welders trust is a great starting point to begin your search. Plus, it’s kinda fun to see who came out on top.
Most Popular Welding Machines
To be perfectly honest, 2021 was just a weird year. From massive ships clogging up canals to chip shortages, inventory has been all over the place. While a lot of popular machines had minor delays, one little superstar was always there when we needed them: The ESAB Miniarc Rogue 180i.
That’s right, more people bought the ESAB Miniarc Rogue this year than any other welding machine. Now, to be fair, many people were buying the Miniarc Rogue as a secondary stick/TIG welder that they could easily haul around. But the Miniarc Rogue is still one of our favorite welding machines under $1000. If you’re looking to get into stick welding or need a portable stick/TIG welder that you can take just about anywhere, the Miniarc 180i is the ideal choice.
While the Miniarc Rogue is a great machine, if you’re looking to get serious with TIG and don’t already have a primary machine, we’d recommend the Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200. To no one’s surprise, this was the most popular dedicated TIG machine this year. If you haven’t yet explored the Square Wave TIG 200, it’s basically the Silverback Gorilla of all TIG machines. Check out our full review of the Square Wave here.
In an unsurprising, non-twist, the Millermatic 211 was the most popular MIG-only machine. The Millermatic has more awards than Micheal Jordan and Charles Barkley combined (which is actually the same as Michael Jordan by himself). The 211 has distinguished itself year after year with just how user-friendly it is, featuring one of the best auto-set features in the industry. This will help you avoid choosing the wrong parameters, which is one of the biggest problems most welders face when trying to improve their skills.
The Multi-Process Champion
Some of the more recent leaps and bounds in innovation have been happening in the world of multi-process welding machines. A lot of brand new machines have entered the ring over the past few years, making it a highly competitive area where anyone could be this year’s multi-process champ.
In particular, we’ve seen huge strides with multi-process machines capable of AC and DC TIG welding, meaning you can TIG weld aluminum. This makes the ESAB Rebel 205ic and the Multimatic 220 some of the most functional machines on the market. In fact, the Multimatic 220 was the most popular multi-process machine in 2021. Considering the somewhat higher price tag on this welder, that really says a lot about its quality and sheer amount of usefulness. You cannot find better multi-process machines out there than the Multimatic 220 or the ESAB Rebel 205ic.
For those of us not interested in TIG welding aluminum, the Lincoln Power MIG 210 MP was also a top multi-process machine this year. The Power MIG is another staple machine in the welding community. It’s the perfect mid-tier welder for anyone who wants to do MIG, stick and TIG with one unit.
The battle for the most popular cutting machine this year was incredibly close. Many of the top brands have significantly improved their plasma cutters over the past few years. The cuts they’re able to produce nowadays are incredibly precise and clean, requiring very little clean up.
While it’s probably still too close to say which plasma cutter was this year's most popular, one machine has begun to pull ahead: Hypertherm is a brand largely dedicated to making the best plasma machines in the world. They’ve built a legacy of reliability, quality and longevity. While their Powermax45 XP has always been a popular choice, the Powermax30 XP was actually a little more popular this year. Both models are quite similar, with the major difference being how much cutting power they provide. The Powermax30 XP can make a clean cut through 3/8” material, whereas the Powermax45 XP can cut cleanly through 5/8" metal.
When it comes to helmets, there are a lot of high-quality options. While it was definitely a close race, the popular pick in 2021 is the Lincoln Viking 3350 Series. This is Lincoln's newest generation of helmet featuring their 4C lens technology. 4C makes the colors in your view much more accurate to the real world, significantly reducing the lime green tint that plagues other auto-darkening helmets. The Viking 3350 also has a longer battery life and a wider field of view than previous versions.
Hot on the heels of the Viking 3350 was the ESAB’s Sentinel A50 helmet. The Sentinel has become iconic for its more form-fitting, sleek design that’s been rumored to be inspired by the popular video game HALO. While we can’t confirm or deny the alien-butt-kicking properties of the A50, it’s definitely one of the best welding helmets ever made.
Both Miller’s Digital Elite and Digital Infinity helmets were also popular choices this year. Each of these hoods comes with ClearLight technology, which is similar in many ways to Lincoln’s 4C. It provides clearer, truer colors that make managing your weld pool easier and reduce the strain on your eyes. When it comes to choosing between the Digital Elite and Digital Infinity helmets, it honestly makes more sense to just go with the Infinity. It has got a larger viewing area and the price difference is less than 20 bucks for what’s essentially the upgraded version of the Digital Elite.
No wrap-up of 2021 would be complete without thanking you for helping us continue to provide the best prices and buying experience in the industry. Whether you’re a professional welder, a hobby welder or just getting started, we’re incredibly proud to be a part of this community.